TITLE: Border Crossing
GENRE: Adult Literary
Two years of opening hospital-room doors hadn’t eased the dread of seeing her tiny son lying vulnerable as a soft-bellied fish on the starched white sheets of the bed, wires and tubes surrounding him like the tentacles of a giant squid. Knowing that those mechanical tentacles monitored his fragile heart and fed him the medicine that kept him alive didn’t stifle the anxiety: How will Koji be today? Is it a good day or a bad day? Yuki counted silently to three and pushed the door open.
Koji’s crooked, five-year-old grin beamed out from his moon face, and she could tell right away it was a good day. Even better: the mechanical tentacles were stored neatly away. Her little fish was free. Yuki scooped him up into her arms, pressing his small, bony chest to her. She nuzzled into his neck, searching for his smell underneath the hospital antiseptic.
“You’re squishing me, Mama,” Koji said, squirming from her embrace.
“Sorry, sweetheart. I’m just so happy to see you.”
“I’m always happy to see you, silly.”
“Oh,” said Koji and he looked nervously at Asana, the nurse, who was fussing around the room, rolling up a piece of plastic tubing and stowing it in the cabinet.
Yuki stood up and bowed in greeting, silently chastising herself for not acknowledging the woman sooner.
Asana handed Yuki Koji’s chart and said, “From a heart standpoint, it was a good day.”
Yuki nodded vigorously, her excitement building as she looked at his numbers.